Dorothy Price

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Stopford at Meath Hospital

Dorothy Stopford Price (8 September 1890 – 30 January 1954) was an Irish physician who contributed to the elimination of childhood tuberculosis in Ireland by introducing the BCG vaccine.[1][2] Her father was Jemmett Stopford, who was descended from a long line of Church of Ireland clerics.[3] Her mother was Constance Kennedy, a Protestant, whose father was Dr Evory Kennedy, a master of the Rotunda Hospital, Dublin, from 1833-1840.[4] Her aunt was historian Alice Stopford Green.[5] Dorothy lived through two World Wars, the Spanish Influenza pandemic, the 1916 Rising in Ireland, and the foundation of a new Irish state.[6] She was brought up as a child of the British Empire, living in Dublin and, later, moving to London. Dorothy spent Easter 1916 as a guest of Sir Matthew Nathan, the British Under-Secretary. While residing there, she had a unique view of the Easter Rising as seen by the British administration in Ireland. Her Easter 1916 diary is in the Irish National Library, Dublin. After the Rising, Dorothy began to question her political allegiances and converted to Irish nationalism.

She was a medical student in Trinity College Dublin from 1916 to 1921. As part of her training she worked in the Meath Hospital, Dublin, as a clinical clerk. In 1918 and early 1919, she witnessed the Spanish flu at first hand. She tended to victims during the day and cycled to the mortuary at night to carry out post mortems.[7]

After she qualified as a doctor, Dorothy's first job was as a dispensary doctor in Kilbrittain in County Cork, where she also engaged in the Irish War of Independence, tending to injured members of the IRA. During the ensuing Irish Civil War, she favoured the Republican side. In 1923, she returned to Dublin and began work in St Ultan's Hospital, Dublin.[8] Dorothy began to research and write about tuberculosis, particularly in the context of children. After a visit to Vienna, Austria, in 1931, she began to use the tuberculin test to diagnose tuberculosis.[9] Dorothy was also interested in the controversial BCG vaccine which could protect against tuberculosis. Her work with tuberculin had showed that many Irish adolescents from rural areas were tuberculin negative and vulnerable to contracting tuberculosis. She was anxious that Irish emigrants, including young Irish nurses and nurse trainees, would be vaccinated.[10] In 1949, Dorothy was appointed as the first chairperson of the Irish National BCG Committee. Dorothy Stopford Price's research and publications, her work on voluntary national committees and her continuous highlighting of the problem of tuberculosis in Ireland as well as her efforts to introduce tuberculin testing and BCG vaccination were pivotal in the ending of the Irish tuberculosis epidemic in the mid-twentieth century.[11]


  1. ^ The Dorothy Price Medal
  2. ^ "Ireland’s Greatest Woman Inventor finalist - Dorothy Stopford Price, tackling TB". Silicon Republic. 5 July 2013. 
  3. ^ O'Broin, Leon, Protestant Nationalists in Revolutionary Ireland: the Stopford Connection. Dublin, Gill&MacMillan, 1985.
  4. ^ Browne, O'Donel T.D. The Rotunda Hospital 1745-1945. Edinburgh, E&S Livingstone, 1947.
  5. ^ Ogilvie, Marilyn; Harvey, Joy (2000). "Price, Dorothy (Stopford) (1890–1954)". The Biographical Dictionary of Women in Science: L-Z. New York: Routledge. p. 1054. ISBN 978-0-415-92040-7. 
  6. ^ Mac Lellan, Anne. Dorothy Stopford Price: Rebel Doctor. Dublin, Irish Academic Press, 2014.
  7. ^ Price, Liam. Dorothy Price: An Account of Twenty Years' Fight against Tuberculosis in Ireland. Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1957, for private circulation only.
  8. ^ OhOgartaigh, Margaret. Dorothy Stopford Price and the Elimination of Childhood Tuberculosis, in OhOgartaigh, Margaret (ed.), Quiet Revolutionaries, Irish Women in Education, Sport and Medicine, 1861-1964. Dublin, The History Press Ireland, 2011
  9. ^ Mac Lellan, Anne. The Penny Test: Tuberculin Testing and Paediatric Practice in Ireland, 1900-1960, in Mac Lellan, Anne and Mauger, Alice (eds.), Growing Pains: Childhood Illness in Ireland 1750-1950. Dublin, Irish Academic Press, 2013.
  10. ^ Mac Lellan, Anne, Victim or Vector: Tubercular Irish Nurses in England 1930-1960, in Cox, Catherine and Marland, Hilary (eds.), Migration, Health and Ethnicity in the Modern World. Houndsmills, Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.
  11. ^ Mac Lellan, Anne. Dorothy Stopford Price: Rebel Doctor. Dublin, Irish Academic Press, 2014.